Videos by Wegman, of Weimaraner fame, going on show at the Met

Gelatin silver prints. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vital Projects Fund Inc Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2016. — Picture by William Wegman, courtesy of the artist
Gelatin silver prints. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vital Projects Fund Inc Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2016. — Picture by William Wegman, courtesy of the artist

NEW YORK, Jan 14 — The Metropolitan Museum in New York is preparing an exhibition that will showcase a major new gift from the artist William Wegman, using his video work as the central point to survey Conceptual art in 1970s Southern California.

The American artist is best-known for his photographs featuring dogs, especially his own Weimaraners, in a variety of poses and costumes. Those photo works, however, are not the main focus of the Met show — rather, the exhibition will revolve around 174 short videos that Wegman made between 1970 and 1999 and that the artist recently gifted to the museum.

Wegman began working in video while teaching at the University of Illinois in the 1960s, appreciating its “lo-fi reproducibility and anti-artistic qualities,” as compared to film. His work in video took off in 1970, when he moved to Southern California; there, while living in LA, the artist developed his method: short, humorous vignettes using everyday items, that reversed expectations and made use of puns and homonyms.

A 90-minute selection of Wegman's videos will be on display, along with photographs and drawings by Wegman. The artist's Weimaraner May Ray is seen enthusiastically participating in many of the short videos, which he created when Conceptual Art was being defined and which mock the movement's self-seriousness.

“Beneath the slacker humour, however, are poignant points about failure and the reversal of expectations that resonate with work by other West Coast Conceptualists,” says the Met.

With that in mind, Wegman's works are juxtaposed with other examples of California Conceptualism, including drawings, prints and photographs by Wegman's Southern California contemporaries, such as John Baldessari, Vija Celmins, Douglas Huebler and Ed Ruscha.

“Before/On/After: William Wegman and California Conceptualism” runs from January 17 through July 15 at the Met. To find out more, click here. — AFP-Relaxnews

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